Researching for this post on comparing yourself to others, I’ve exposed an extreme flaw in my thinking and came across one particular piece of advice which has shown me that I am wasting precious time in my life. The below is what I have
My friends and family look at my social media feed and probably think I’m living very happily here on the other side of the world. If so, they’re only half correct as I’m as prone to depression and mental health issues now more than ever. The reality is, no matter where you go in the world, you gotta bring yourself with you. I look at myself more and more these days in comparison to others and I never come out well – no matter how many times I do it. I’m a complete bastard when it comes to judging myself. I feel like I’m driving down the motorway of life, wishing I had a plane. Wishing so hard that I’m starting to daydream and I’m in danger of losing control.
Let’s start with social media. Given the times we live in, we are heavily exposed to other people’s lives through pictures, videos, and random brain farts from them such as ‘Had pasta for lunch’. It’s bad enough having to deal with our own random thoughts, but to see everyone else’s, all day every day, is not something which the human brain is fully prepared for. There are studies linking social media to mental health effects such a depression, and I can admit to feeling a lot worse off after seeing certain things online.It can be quite a punishing experience during a low moment when you log on to see everyone looking great and having a blast.
“The reason why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” – Steven Furtick
People are generally going to portray their best selves online with a hand-picked selection of quality time photos. Like me, who is only posting things to let people know I’m still alive and hopefully trick them into thinking that I’m really happy (they’ve no idea about this blog). There are exceptions of course, like the one friend I have who is very honest about how pissed off he is all the time – I hope he doesn’t compare himself to me. Anyway, lying in bed depressed and seeing how everyone else is enjoying their lives is a strange modern experience that we have to be aware of and control. Like having a mini TV on your steering wheel, kind of hard to focus with that.
Speaking of TV let’s talk about the rich and famous. Yes, the beautiful people of tinsel town and all those magical lands where the rich and famous live extraordinary lavish lives. In this case, social media is playing a huge role in exposing how screwed up a lot of these folks are. Helping us to realize that perhaps it’s not a desirable existence at all. Even Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie couldn’t get it right! And then there’s Harvey and the rest of the newly exposed tribe of perverters. Really, it isn’t sounding like a great environment to be in, is it? Although the lives of celebrities are under question, it’s the image thing that affects a lot of people when comparing themselves to those who are paid, and photoshopped, to look their best.
“Think of the most attractive person you know. Even that person, at some point, has had raging diarrhea.” – Anon
And then there’s teenagers and kids who see adolescent pop stars, actors, and Youtubers making fortunes before they’re old enough to drive. Add porn to the mix too and you’ve got some warped ideas about what we should be aspiring to in life. I think you can see the picture here. Most of us live in a thing called ‘The real world’ where we are bombarded with images and dreams of fantasy living – from whatever form of entertainment you choose. It can leave you feeling very far away from how you wish your life was, and ultimately very disappointed with your actual life. And this is where the heart of the issue lies. The focus on external things in life that are out of your control. Flicking through waves and waves of things that you wish you were, and had, while losing focus on yourself is like driving down the motorway looking at the stars – you’re going to crash.
Those around you…
The same applies to your normal everyday life too. Looking at the people around you and feeling a lack of self-worth because you feel they are better than you in some way. Maybe you’re not following the path of house, car, kids and you feel lost or maybe you have all that and you wish you were free. That’s like driving down the motor-way looking at your feet – bang!
What I’ve realized…
There’s a ton of little tips out there to help you focus and stop comparing yourself to others but there’s one general rule that really had an impact on me. And it goes like this…
All that time you spend comparing yourself to others and things out of your control is energy and time wasted which could, and should, be spent working on yourself. The point is, It’s your life and the responsibility is on you to lead it where you want to go. And that’s going to take your full attention, you don’t have time to be looking at others in envy. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Turn that radio up and enjoy the ride.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” —Theodore Roosevelt
That’s not to say you shouldn’t aspire to be like others. People who you admire and who you want to be like someday. In that case, ask yourself how they got to where they are and what they would be doing right now in your situation to reach the desired destination? This is a whole other post for another day!
Feature image via pxhere.com